Red Sox drop opener to Orioles, 2-1

Red Sox drop opener to Orioles, 2-1
March 31, 2014, 6:00 pm

BALTIMORE -- Jon Lester picked up right where he left off last October. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for his teammates.

Lester -- so dominant in the Red Sox' October run to a World Series championship -- allowed only two runs over seven innings, scattering six hits and striking out eight. But Red Sox hitters were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, left 12 men on base, and saddled the veteran left-hander with a frustrating 2-1 loss Monday in the first game of the 2014 season.

"We thought something good was going to happen," said first baseman Mike Napoli, who went 1-for-2 with two walks and was lifted for pinch-runner Jackie Bradley Jr. in the eighth inning. "But we just didn't get the timely hit."

The only bright spot for Boston: A fourth-inning home run from Grady Sizemore, playing in his first major-league game in more than two years. It tied the game at 1-1, but the Orioles got a homer from free-agent signee Nelson Cruz in the bottom of the seventh for the winning run.

STAR OF THE GAME: Nelson Cruz
Signed after the start of spring training, Cruz made an impact in his very first game in an Orioles' uniform. In the second, he drew a walk, moved to second on a bloop single and scored on the back of a
double play. But he saved his biggest heroics for the seventh when he hit Jon Lester's first pitch of the inning into the seats in left, providing the winning run for the Orioles.
     
HONORABLE MENTION: Grady Sizemore   
It didn't come in a winning effort, but Sizemore's storybook spring continued in the season opener. Sizemore singled in his first at-bat, and then leading off the top of the fourth, smoked a broken-bat solo homer to right for his first homer since 2011.
     
GOAT OF THE GAME: Mike Carp  
Carp got the start in left, but it wasn't his finest hour. In the second, he failed to advance from second to third on a ball that was juggled by Cruz on the warning track. In his next three plate appearances, Carp managed to strand four baserunners while going 0-for-3.
     
TURNING POINT: The Red Sox' last best chance came in the eighth, when, with runners at first second, Brian Matusz got A.J. Pierzynski on a comebacker, stranding two baserunners, including the potential tying run in scoring position.
 
BY THE NUMBERS: Since the fateful final game of the 2011 season when the Orioles beat the Red Sox to knock them out of a playoff spot, the O's are 25-13 against the Sox.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "Everyone's going to focus on that final out made, but there were a number of opportunities that we did create and just didn't cash in." John Farrell.